Can children wear contacts?
Contact lenses are worn by an increasing number of children and there are two major reasons why this is a positive phenomenon.
- Sports safety
Contact lenses are much safer than glasses in active children, who play a lot of sports and enjoy various physical activities. This is because contact lenses reduce the risk of injuries by providing more stable, clear central vision as well as significantly wider peripheral vision and better depth of field perception. In addition, if an accident does happen, contact lenses do not break and do not cause additional injuries.
- Self-esteem boost
In spite of the immense popularity of the Harry Potter books and films, glasses are still negatively associated with lower self-confidence and self-esteem. Fortunately contact lenses can solve the issue quite effectively. The final evaluation of a three-year study initiated in 2010 demonstrated that children who had worn contact lenses perceived their social skills, academic achievement and appearance significantly better than those who had worn glasses. Most optometrists including us, appear to agree with the results of the study. According to a survey carried out by the American Optometric Association, over 50% believe that the best age to start wearing contact lenses is 10-12 years and more than 20% feel contact lens fitting can be safely recommended to kids aged 8-9.
Things to keep in mind
- Contact lens use requires a great deal of maturity, as lenses need to be properly maintained and their wearers have to follow doctors' recommendations consistently. Any exceptions or non-compliance could result in serious complications, including permanent blindness. Age is a factor here, but not the most important one.
- If parents worry about their child's ability to maintain proper hygiene, they should consider fitting them with daily disposable contact lenses, because they are much easier to use and do not require cleaning or disinfection and therefore are less likely to cause complications, such as infections. They also eliminate the risk of allergic reactions to lens care solutions.
- Contact lenses should be compatible with the users' lifestyles. Thus, they are less suitable for avid swimmers, but are the perfect solution for those who spend long hours cycling or any other activity that does not involve the wearers head being under water. Making their decision, parents ought to think about how their kids like spending their free time.
- Parents need to always keep in mind that contact lenses are medical devices and could cause serious injuries, such as corneal abrasions, which often lead to severe eye infections. That is why they have to be prescribed by an eye care practitioner, who will also give advice on the best type of contact lens for a given patient.
- Parents need to remember about follow-up visits for their lens wearing children. End of school year seems like a perfect time for checking if your child's prescription for contact lenses or glasses is up-to-date. Refractive errors in children often change dramatically as a result of changes in their daily routines and the fact that their eyes grow very fast, just like the rest of their bodies. At the end of the school year, during which children are required to read and write for long hours every day, they often need stronger contact lenses or glasses. It is therefore vital that they should undergo eye exams before the school term begins so that the can see clearly in class.
- Wearing contact lenses or glasses that are too strong or too weak can lead to numerous problems, including eye strain and headaches. In addition, outdated prescriptions could result in the progression of a child's vision problems and major difficulties in later years.
To sum up - Contact lenses are a great solution for wearers of any age. Children should be carefully supervised and should undergo regular eye exams before the start of the school term.